The Achievement Gap, Scaffolding/Modifying and Working with English Language Learners

1st: Citation
2nd: Quotation from the article
3rd: Quotation from our classmate

Hall, T., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2003). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved [insert date] from http://aim.cast.org/learn/historyarchive/backgroundpapers/differentiated...
  • “careful instruction was organized to teach students the concept of finding a book that is "just right," helping students to find a book that is challenging, yet not too difficult.”
  • One good idea was an emphasis on providing different levels/types of text. This reminded me that a good way to do that is through literature circles and SSR.

Walker, S.A. and Pearsall, L.D. (2012) Barriers to Advanced Placement for Latino Students at the High-School Level. Roeper Review, 34(1): 12-25.
  • "Education systems that disregard the importance of peer relations as a powerful motivator for students of all ages risk ongoing failure in realizing equity, achievement, and accountability goals." (20)
  • Success in terms of academics should not be confined to any one category, be it in terms of heterosexuality, gender, race, or class. Students should know that success is quite simply the achievement of your life ambitions, and that college should be an avenue open to anyone. Part of addressing the achievement gap is having courageous conversations with students of the definition of academic rigor, what the normative categories are for those who traditionally embark in this path, and what we as a community can do to support one another to achieve and appropriate the resources for the benefit of the community.

Chiaravalloti, L A. (2010). "Wouldn't She Notice He Had Mud on His Shirt?": Scaffolding Meaningful Discussions. Voices from the middle, 18(2), 16-25.
  • "There is a relationship between the structural supports teachers set in place to foster academic discourse in their classrooms and the quality of learning that is realized by their students. Re- search suggests that students who are given frequent and equitable opportunities for academic talk will be more likely to make academic gains."(p. 16).
  • She (the teacher) has them discuss a question and each students must put in a card every time they spoke. At the end of the discussion, the teacher will have the students look at the cards in the middle and have them discuss how the conversation could have been improved.

Jackson, J. (2011). INTERACTIVE WORD WALLS. Science Scope, 35(3), 45-49.

  • "An interactive word wall, as opposed to the traditional word wall, provides visual aids that assist in illustrating word meanings and conceptually organize words to deepen understanding." (Jackson, 2011, pg. 45)
  • As the quote explains, an interactive word wall, not only lists terms but, uses images to define the terms. This would be helpful for English language learners as visuals are content embedded sources, allowing ELL to better access to the term's meaning.

Pease-Alvarez, L., Samway, K.D., Cifka-Herrera, C. (2010): Working within the system: teachers of english learners negotiating a literacy instruction mandate, (313-334)
  • “When negotiating power relations in top-down policy environments like the one currently in place in the US and elsewhere, teachers have been described as asserting their agency in creative and strategic ways. This has taken the form of teachers appropriating reforms in ways that enable them to continue their pedagogical practice; engaging in the covert use of banned instructional practices; and/or tweaking or accommodating the required program with or without the approval/encouragement of administrators. In addition, teachers may simultaneously produce dominant state-sanctioned literacy practices and engage in ‘clandestine operations’ that disrupt those practices” (318)

Kieffer, M.J. (2011) Converging Trajectories Reading Growth in Language Minority Learners and Their Classmates, Kindergarten to Grade 8

  • “The fitted difference between [Language Minority] learners with initially limited English proficiency and the national average equates to more than 2 years of growth in Grade 8, suggesting that many of these learners enter high school with levels of English reading proficiency that are likely to be insufficient for academic success. … Given that instructional supports for literacy development are likely to be rare in high schools, even more so than in middle schools (e.g., Carnegie Council on Adolescent Literacy, 2010), these findings do not bode well for the ultimate educational attainment of these learners” (p. 1215)
  • It’s a long quote, but it stuck with me because according to this data, students who come into school as limited English proficient have a very small chance of ever catching up to English proficient students, which means that they are already bound for failure.

Van Garderen, D. & Whittaker, C. (2006). Planning differentiated, multicultural instruction for secondary inclusive classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children 38(3), pp. 12-20.

  • "In this article, we illustrate how the individual components of differentiated instruction, UDL [universal design for learning], and multicultural education can be helpful in meeting the needs of students from diverse backgrounds in the general education curriculum."
  • The cool thing about this article is that the authors see benefits from UDL, multicultural education, AND individuated instruction, and they're trying to synthesize these benefits into one vision of education. It's pretty neat.

Ladson- Billings, G. Pushing Past the Achievement Gap: An Essay on the Language of Deficit. Journal of Negro Education. 76(3), 316-323.

  • "I argue that we need to change the discourse from achievement gap to what I have termed an "education debt." The gap in which language places the onus of underachievement on the students, their families and in some cases individual teachers. It constructs students as defective and lacking. It admonishes them and that they need to catch up" (p. 319).
  • This article brought to light the idea that the root of the discourse essentially places the blame on poor students of color, families and teachers whereas it becomes the idea that it is our duty to "to catch them up". White achievemement for this matter remains at the top and unquestioned. This fallacy suggests that academic achievement is static and ignores the "other gaps that create poverty such as the wealth gap and health gap (as opposed to the traditional view that poverty is a culture and inherent in the values of people). The essay challenges us to think about these gaps in context whereas we need to examine the historical, social, economic and political that has created the disparity in achievement.

Manning, S. (2010). Valuing the Advanced Learner: Differentiating up. The Clearing House, 83(4), 145-149.

  • "In education, the guiding concept of fairness means that everyone receives what is needed, and not necessarily that everyone receives the same instructions (Welch 2000). A generalized example of fairness is the use of glasses. A student needs glasses to see effectively, but asking all students to put on glasses because one student needs them is foolish and a waste of time for all parties involved. Yet it seems that sometimes teachers and other stakeholders in education want everyone to wear glasses: those who need them and those who do not" (Manning 2010, p. 146).
  • "The content of curricula for gifted learners should focus on and be organized to include more elaborate, complex, and in-depth study of major ideas, problems, and themes that integrate knowledge within and across thought" (Manning 2010, p. 147).

Jordan, Will. (2010). Defining Equity: Multiple Perspectives to Analyzing the Performance of Diverse Learners. Review of Research in Education (34:1) p 142-178.
  • "I believe the more important aim is creating a context within which students are nurtured socially and intellectually and given real opportunities to learn high-content, standards-based material. Equity then, could be measured in terms of “quality of care” and rigor, as well as via individual achievement indicators. Perhaps ongoing work to create standards-based assessments in diverse educational settings may hopefully lead to an evolution of the current accountability policy framework."
  • The author proceeds to examine the accountability policy framework (Diamond & Spillane, 2004; Mazzeo, 2001) which holds that the purpose of schooling should be to educate every student to the same high standards of performance. He claims that this accountability framework has led us to examine an "achievement gap" not from the perspective of student learning but from that of standardized achievement.

Madrid, Michael. (2011). The Latino Achievement Gap. Multicultural education, 19(3), 7-12.
  • "The problem is complex and its solution will not be found in a specific program, intervention or curriculum because the academic achievement of Latinos is affected by many factors including the conditions of the schools in which Latino students are enrolled, the quality of coursework, the manner in which teachers teach, how teachers and school leaders perceive Latino students, the allocation of resources, parents' expectations, parent empowerment, and teacher preparation."

Pawan, F. (2008). “Content-area teachers and scaffolded instruction for English language learners.” Teaching and Teacher Education; p1450-1462.
  • “The findings suggest empirically that cultural scaffolding is an element of content-area instruction that requires focused attention by all English Language Learners (ELLs). Similarly, the findings also support other research asserting that literacy instruction is an inherent component of subject matter instruction and that a foundation in literacy instruction needs to be a part of the teacher education experience of all content area teachers, especially those working with ELLs” (Page 1460).

Freedman, S.W., Delp, V., and Crawford, S. (2005) Teaching English in Untracked Classrooms. In Research in the Teaching of English. 40(1). Pgs: 62 -126
  • "To promote equity, Delp thought it essential to offer the same curriculum to all students,which led her to create a set of participant structures that favored whole group teaching with the backup of much individualization."
  • Tracking is not beneficial to anyone, but we do it because it is historical and no one has proposed an alternative.

Corona, E. (2007). Providing Support for English Language Learner Services. Library media connection, 25(6), 34-37.
  • "One other essential component for a vocabulary instruction program is wide reading so that implicit learning can occur (Green, 2004). Students have to learn how to acquire word meanings independently, both as they hear new words and as they encounter them in reading. Therefore, they need to be encouraged to read as widely as possible so that they can be exposed to a greater quantity and variety of words" (Corona, 2007, p.36).


Barr, S., Eslami, Z. R., & Joshi, R. M. (2012). Core strategies to support english language learners. The Educational Forum, 76(1), 105-117.
  • "Teaching students to read in their first language promotes higher levels of reading achievement in English"
  • Encourage the native language and the other language (English or any other language) will eventually fall into place.

Rotter, K M. (2004). Simple Techniques to Improve Teacher-Made Instructional Materials for Use by Pupils with Disabilities. Preventing school failure, 48(2), 38-43.
  • "put fewer items on a page, and ensure an uncluttered appearance in any instructional material... increased spacing makes reading easier and that students with educational disabilities tend to write larger than their typical peers....leave space for students to express themselves on essays, as well as short and one word answers....use at least 1.5 line spacing between lines of computer generated materials, having students write on every other line (to increase ability to proofread and edit), skipping lines between teacher-typed questions, and leaving space around important items...also provide lines for responses in lieu of open space--which is especially important in math to allow students to show their work--and that teachers should leave more white spaces on all paper materials. In the words of one respondent, "less is better on paper."" (p.42)

Palumbo, A. (2012). An Academic Curriculum Will Close the Academic Achievement Gap. The Clearing House, 85(3), 117-121.
  • “These schools try to be consistent, to give students a second home, and to be a personal lodestone whose word students can safely deposit in their emotional bank. These successful schools provide emotional support while teaching what all students need: academic success, basic skills, factual knowledge, a core curriculum, self-discipline, hope. They create an educational ground, mixing skills and knowledge with contextual references, so students can learn subject material” (Palumbo, 119).
  • Basically, if we are to expect students to succeed in our system of rigorous curriculums and high expectations, we need to place a major emphasis on early childhood confidence as well as academic vocabulary. This research talks about how children aren’t getting the foundations they need for teachers to build on later. By high school, when students in underserved urban areas do not have the basic building blocks, they fail at rapid rates.

Rethinking School Editors. (1996, January). The shame of the nation the restoration of apartheid schooling in America. Rethinking Schools,
  • “One of the most disheartening experiences for those who grew up in the years when Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall were alive is to visit public schools today that bear their names, or names of other honored leaders of integration struggles that produced the temporary progress that took place in the three decades after Brown, and to find how many of these schools are bastions of contemporary segregation. It is even more disheartening when schools like these are not in segregated neighborhoods but in racially mixed areas in which integration of a public school would seem to be most natural and where, indeed, it takes a conscious effort on the part of parents or school officials in these districts to avoid the integration option that is often right at their front door” (Rethinking School Editors, 1996).

Blaz D. (2008). Differentiated assessment for middle and high school classrooms. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education. Bonwell. 1-22.
  • "As educators, we carefully plan units to fit students’ needs and expand their education in a fair manner. But when differentiating, the potential for being perceived as unfair increases, because students are often asked to produce different results at differing levels of difficulty and graded using different rubrics; so it is imperative to ensure that students, parents, and administrators recognize that what you are asking students to do is fair...A perception of unfairness by students can undermine the trust between student and teacher that must exist for effective instruction and learning, so we need to carefully examine policies and behaviors and make sure they are not only fair but are perceived as fair by students (18-19)
  • We must be fair to the students and what is expected must be agreed upon and we have to be intentional in our approach to be respectful to everyone. Fairness becomes very important to our practice because we are intending in providing a humanizing education that understands the needs of the students. If we act neglectful we create negligent results.